This year I have been taking more interest in my health. Eating more fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise and cutting down on sugar and processed foods. The body is incredibly intelligent and self-healing, but we must give it the right conditions in order to maintain a healthy state. We must be proactive with our health, both physically and mentally.
I recently went shopping for a new chiropractor and got an updated set of x-rays. It turned out to be a really good move to get fresh eyes on my spinal health. I already knew my spine was not in the best of shape. In the past, I’ve been in three pretty severe car accidents, which has left my cervical spine with a loss of the normal and healthy curvature called lordosis. This new chiropractor took a look at my x-rays and gave me a serious health talk. It became quite clear that I needed to take the alignment of my cervical spine a lot more serious than I had been. Luckily for me I have no arthritis or disc degeneration, so it basically boils down to retraining the muscles and ligaments to hold the neck in a new position.
This curvature is often called ‘the arc of life’, because it’s incredibly important for the overall health of a person. The spinal vertebrae houses the spinal cord which sends signals to all parts of the body to keep everything functioning, from the lungs being able to take in oxygen to the stomach being able to digest food and every other body system being able to function as it should. Any disturbance in the spinal cord can cause a host of problems, in my case, repeated episodes of vertigo, difficulty breathing
deeply, and brain fog, to name a few.
In the past I would have relied solely on the chiropractor to realign my spine; a passive participant. But these days I consider my health my sole responsibility. I may use the expertise of people more knowledgeable than me, but ultimately it comes down to my commitment to engage in my health and healing process. So I went straight to work on investigating exercises to correct the misalignment.
Assisting the Body in its Healing Process
The first thing I did was start using a cervical roll lying down up to 3 times a day for 10-45 minutes each time. Second, I looked up videos on YouTube and found simple exercises I could perform with a towel every day. Thirdly, I looked online for a picture of a healthy spine and made it my phone wallpaper. Every time I look at my phone now I am retraining my brain to think of a healthy neck position. Becoming aware of my neck position and sending an image of a healthy spine to my brain constantly and consistently keeps my healing process in the forefront of my awareness.
Athletes know how powerful the brain is and put just as much focus towards training their minds as they do in training their bodies. An athlete will visualize themselves completing the activity along with performing the activity. The same disciplines work in healing the body.
I think a lot of people give up their power when it comes to their health. We have been taught over the decades that doctors know best and that some pill will magically take care of our symptoms. We have been led to believe that the best option is to go under the knife and remove/replace the ‘problem’ area. Maybe in some instances that is the best option, but in many cases I think people believe that they have no control over the situation and that their dis-ease isn’t reversible.
Last week, I was out tending to the weeds in my yard. I was using scissors to cut the overgrowth and after an hour realized I had rubbed two big gaping holes in my fingers. My first thought was, “how lucky that the body regenerates itself”. Nobody cuts their skin and assumes they will walk around with an open wound the rest of their lives. Why would the internal body be any different? When we break a leg or an arm…it repairs itself. The body is self-healing.
Years ago I listened to an influential speaker/writer named Sabrina Fox. She was speaking about her book titled Body Blessing. One of the stories she relayed was about injuring her knee in a skiing accident. She went to see the doctor who told her it was her ligament that was torn and that she could strengthen her muscles around it but that ligaments didn’t repair themselves. Her instinct was to thank her knee for working so hard for her and to caress it and be kind to it. After a year she went back to the doctor and he found that the ligament had naturally repaired itself. I just love this story.
As a massage therapist, I constantly hear people talk negatively to and about their bodies. Many say things to me like, getting old sucks, my body is falling apart, etc. Our thoughts become our words and our words become our experience. If you think getting old sucks, then getting old will surely suck for you. If on the other hand we are grateful for our body and its magnificent power to regenerate itself, then we may just find we grow new ligaments, regenerate our liver or correct our cervical curvature.
“The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy.
Learn to use the power wisely.” ~David Cuschieri
“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” ~Earl Nightingale
Steps to Self-Healing
Step 1) Train your brain- Use a picture as a reminder of your goal. Believe that you will get where you want to go and visualize your success. Be aware of your thought patterns and use positive encouragement with yourself.
Step 2) Make a plan- Research what exercises will take you towards this goal. Whether it’s cardio, meditation, weight training, a new diet or stretching, create the action steps that will get you to your desired outcome.
Step 3) Execute- Follow through on your plan and remember to have fun along the way. Life is a journey, not a destination.
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